is a Japanese role-playing browser game developed by Square Enix and Success Corporation, and published by Square Enix for web browsers as the eighth installment in the... read more
is a Japanese role-playing browser game developed by Square Enix and Success Corporation, and published by Square Enix for web browsers as the eighth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series.
Gameplay involves players navigating a customized avatar through Disney-inspired worlds fighting enemies, along with taking down bosses in multiplayer matches in competition with other teams. A version of the game for mobile devices, Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, was released in Japan in September 2015, and in North America in April 2016.
Kingdom Hearts χ is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts series as a whole, taking place before the Keyblade War, the event which established the current organization of the Kingdom Hearts universe. The player assumes the role of a Keyblade wielder who joins one of five factions led by Keyblade Masters fighting for control of the limited Light existing in the world. The game's plot is connected to Kingdom Hearts III, the next main entry in the series. The title refers to the legendary χ-blade, a weapon central to the series' story arc.
The game was designed as a playing experience that newcomers to the series could come to. Its presentation was compared to that of a fairy tale, as depicting the usual style of the series would have been difficult on the platform. Both Tetsuya Nomura and Yoko Shimomura, veterans from the main series, returned as director and composer respectively. Since release, the game has received favorable opinions from players.
Kingdom Hearts χ is a role-playing video game set in the universe of Kingdom Hearts, where players navigate different Disney-inspired worlds defeating monsters known as the Heartless. Before beginning, players create their own character. Players can customize the gender, hair, Keyblade and clothing, and choose accessories themed after both Square Enix and Disney universes present in the Kingdom Hearts series. Story missions are unlocked by the player. After a certain amount of the available content has been completed, new story missions become available. Players navigate their surroundings by dragging their mouse across the screen. The base game is free to play, with optional microtransactions. Actions use up AP, which can be replenished by either waiting or by using potions, which can be earned or bought. Rare items such as special cards can also be purchased. Alongside the single-player mode, there is a multiplayer mode where teams of players take on bosses.
Enemies appear on-screen, and can be engaged by clicking on them. Upon defeating an enemy, the player earns experience points and Munny, the in-game currency. The player also earns Fragments, cards based on the characters of the Kingdom Hearts series, imbued with different properties depending on the character, such as physical or elemental strikes. Cards can be merged and levelled up, strengthening the player. Players can strengthen their Keyblade using materials found in each world, and new Keyblades are acquired as the story progresses. Unchained shares multiple gameplay features with its browser counterpart, except tailored for a touch screen. The ability to travel between different Disney worlds is also replaced with a stage system.
Kingdom Hearts χ is set before the legendary Keyblade War, when disputes between Keyblade wielders over the Light that created the world sparked a war between Light and Darkness, triggering a calamity that created the present-day layout of the Kingdom Hearts world. Prior to the war, an unnamed Keyblade Master bestowed a book called the Tome of Prophecy to five of his six apprentices before disappearing. The Tome has the ability to predict and even manifest objects and people from the future. The five apprentices learned to a prophecy foretelling the world falling to Darkness and the Light being destroyed. In order to prevent this, each of the apprentices decided to attempt to prevent the prophecy from coming true. As part of their efforts, they used the Tome to manifest powerful warriors from the future as the Fragments. Each eventually begins hoarding pieces of Light, called Lux, from the monsters known as Heartless, and each creates their own factions themed around their individual animal icon: Ursus, Anguis, Unicornus, Leopardus, and Vulpes. The player character, a newly awakened Keyblade Wielder, chooses to support one of the factions and works to ensure the chosen faction's supremacy. The story will lead into the beginning of the Keyblade War.
Kingdom Hearts χ opens in pop-up book format, showing Kairi and her grandmother in Radiant Garden. Kairi's grandmother is telling Kairi her favorite story of light and darkness.
In the Dive to the Heart, the Player is asked to choose between five unions, known as Anguis, Leopardos, Unicornis, Ursus and Vulpeus. Once the Player has chosen, Darkness surrounds them - though they summon forth a Keyblade, which is described to them as being "...the power of Light meant to drive away Darkness". The Player is enveloped in light and suddenly finds themselves in Daybreak Town. Upon the Player's arrival, a massive Corridor of Darkness opens, releasing a Darkside Heartless into Daybreak Town. Although the Player summons their Keyblade to defend themselves, they are easily overcome by the large Heartless. Before the Heartless can finish them off, the Player is saved by their respective Foreteller; who forces the Darkside back into the Corridor of Darkness and follows it in suite in order to destroy it.
Chirithy, a cat-like figure who had accompanied the Foreteller, explains that someone is seeking out the Light, and that the Player had been chosen to become a Keyblade Wielder and to use the Keyblade - a weapon of light - to fend off the darkness that is quickly covering the worlds. Chirithy tells The Player that it's their task to keep the Darkness at bay, collect Light and protect the world. Additionally, Chirithy details the existence of the Heartless as malicious beings of Darkness who seek out hearts and are intent on plunging the worlds into darkness; with the Keyblade being the only thing capable of opposing them. With this, Chirithy reveals that it had been tasked by The Player's Foreteller to act as an aid to the novice Keyblade wielder throughout their training. Before progressing forward, Chirithy indicates that The Player’s Keyblade, much like the Player themselves, is incomplete and still requires the power of “Cards” called Fragments – one of which happens to be lying on the ground nearby. When the Player appears to be confused, Chirithy suggests that they continue later. With Chirithy’s exit, The Player goes to pick up the Card, only to be beaten there by a Moogle. The Moogle tells The Player that they have many Cards that they can offer, but for a price. Ultimately, the Moogle gives the Player the Card, calling it a sample of what he has to offer.
After exploring the area and defeating several Heartless, the Player is approached by their Foreteller, who tells them that they should be able to defeat weaker Heartless with their Keyblade, but for strong Heartless the Player will need to call upon the help of others who had the same will in order to be victorious. Just then, another Darkside appears, though this time numerous other Keyblade wielders from your Union arrive to help take down the powerful Heartless. Following their victory, the Foreteller warns the Player that there are others who appear to be collecting Light in order to fend off the darkness, but that doesn't mean that their will is the same. To elaborate, the Foreteller states that these other Unions don't necessarily strive for peace across the worlds - instead gathering the Light for their own selfish desires - however it's up to the Player to figure out whose darkness is hiding behind a facade of Light for themselves. Once the Foreteller leaves, Chirithy voices its understanding of The Player's confusion, but reminds them that darkness continues to spread, and has in fact spread to other worlds. Revealing that it wants The Player to go to these other worlds to fight the darkness, Chirithy then informs The Player that the Lanes Between had been opened and they could use them to access these other worlds within the Book of Prophecies: a tome that predicts the future.
The Player visits Dwarf Woodlands, Wonderland and Agrabah, where they interact with the locals and help defeat the hoards of Heartless that are as they attempt to consume the world with Darkness. The Player is brought to each world under Chirithy's direction, as Darkball Heartless continue crossing over from other worlds and it's the Player's job to source their origin. While in Wonderland, Chirithy also detail his origins: “The world was in Darkness. But, the world where I came into being was full of a very bright Light. The person who bore me from this world was smiling and looking at me from within the Light.” Ultimately, the Player manages to do a lot to help the locals, but when Darkballs appear in Agrabah, Chirithy is unsure of where they came from and wonders whether or not "he" knew something about it - heading back to Daybreak Town alongside The Player.
Upon returning to Daybreak Town, Chirithy compliments the Player’s progress, ultimately deciding to tell the Player what they need to know: “Before the person who created me vanished, he gave his six disciples new names, and to five of them, a prophecy. Those five disciples, now Foretellers, read the prophecy in which the future was foretold - but they seemed to be shocked by the last verse: "By waging war on that land, Light shall face defeat and be annihilated. The world shall be engulfed in eternal darkness." In order to save the future, the five Foretellers thought about using the hidden power within the prophecies.” Chirithy reveals to The Player that it is this power that they’re using, with the Cards acting as intermediaries. They used power from the future to protect the light from darkness, and tried to change the future that’s engulfed in darkness. Chirithy reminds The Player that even though the five Foretellers have the same goal, their wills differ, which is why the Player mustn’t lose sight of who they are. Later on, the Player seeks out Chirithy again, who claims to have been doing research on his own about the Darkballs that appeared in Agrabah. As he’d thought, the Darkballs had come from yet another world – and so Chirithy sends The Player to Olympus Coliseum in order to further fend off the Heartless.
Afterwards, the Player returns to Daybreak Town and helps several other Keyblade wielders fight off Heartless and later meets another Keyblade wielder named Ephemera, who is from a different Union. He wishes to explore a mysterious tower that lies within the center of Daybreak Town. The Player agrees to go with him to find a way into the tower, against Chirithy's wishes, but Ephemera eventually goes ahead without him/her. The tower is revealed to be the lair of the Foretellers, and the Player encounters Master Ava, the Foreteller from earlier. She challenges the Player to a fight to test his/her strength. After the duel, she informs the Player that they has sadness in their heart and that is a link to darkness and tells the Player to return home for today. The Player visits a new world: Beast's Castle, and meets another Keyblade Wielder named Skuld, who is from the same Union as Ephemera and also wants to explore the Foretellers lair. They are suddenly shocked to see two Foretellers fighting each other and encounter strange Heartless. After the two defeat them, they also encounter a dark vision of Chirithy, who reveals that the Heartless they defeated are Keyblade Wielders consumed by darkness, much to the shock of the Player's Chirithy.
Kingdom Hearts χ was co-directed by Tetsuya Nomura, one of the series' creators, and Tatsuya Kando, who had previous directed Nintendo DS game The World Ends with You. The game's music is composed by Yoko Shimomura, a regular contributor to the series' music. The game was co-developed by Square Enix and Japanese studio Success Corporation. Square Enix handled the planning and design, but due to its newness to the team, development was transferred to Success Corporation, who were experienced with developing browser games. Despite multiplayer elements being included, the game was "fundamentally single-player", as with most other entries in the series. The Chirithy, the player characters' companion, were designed around the concept of a supportive yet unobtrusive guide. He based its design on the Scottish Fold domestic cat.
Due to difficulties transferring the core Kingdom Hearts experience into a browser game, the presentation was created to be more like a fairy tale than the settings encounter by series protagonists Sora and Riku. For this same reason, the team went with mouse-based rather than controller-based gameplay. The team were aiming for a game that had simple controls and flashy battles. The stories of Kingdom Hearts χ and Kingdom Hearts III share a strong connection, and the two stories were written at the same time. Despite this strong link, it was described by Nomura as a title where story was not an emphasis, and that its content was completely separate from the main series, making it accessible for newcomers. The game's title refers to the χ-blade (Keyblade), the original Keyblade and a weapon central to the Kingdom Hearts storyline. During 2014, Nomura stated that the story of Kingdom Hearts χ was on hold while work was focused on Kingdom Hearts III. He also stated that they were exploring ways to allow more fans of the series to experience the game.
Unchained was decided upon while the original game was still in development. Nomura initially planned to release both titles simultaneously, with each being updated individually. However development was focused on Kingdom Hearts χ, halting development on Unchained. The original plan was to make the game a simpler version of its browser counterpart, but with the increasing specs of mobile devices, the workload increased, contributing to the halt to development. As mobile devices employ a different control set-up to web browsers, Unchained could not work simply as a port of Kingdom Hearts χ. Its title "Unchained" signified the gameplay and story ofKingdom Hearts χ being released into a mobile format. One of the functions included was to make it a more casual experience than Kingdom Hearts χ, with battles being shorter and potentially easier.
The game was first announced at Tokyo Game Show 2012 alongside Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix under the tentative title Kingdom Hearts for PC Browsers. Its official title was announced in February the following year. To promote the game, codes for special items and in-game currency were included with first-print copies ofKingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix. A closed beta for the title began on March 22, 2013, with Beta recruitment beginning on March 13. The test was available for users who had a Yahoo Japan ID, and included in-game items and currency as a starting gift. An open beta test began on July 9 of the same year. The game's official service began on July 18. Since the original release, the game has received constant updates to its story missions, providing additional content to players. A localization for western territories was being prepared, with Disney Interactive as the game's publisher. These plans needed to be changed when Playdom, a social game network developer owned by Disney Interactive, was closed down, preventing Kingdom Hearts χ from being published as planned. Despite this, there are still plans for a localization using another company as Square Enix does not have a browser network in western territories. A western release of Unchained χ is planned, with western playtests being used to improve the experience prior to release. Its Western release was officially announced at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Unchained χ was released in Japan on September 3, 2015. It released in North America on April 7, 2016.
By September 2013, 200,000 users were announced to have enrolled for the game. During the 2013 WebMoney Awards, Kingdom Hearts χ was among the games voted into the "Best Rookie of the Year Good Games" category, with most voters praising the game for being accessible to series newcomers, and fun to play. Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku was generally positive, saying that despite it being similar to other Japanese browser games and using a micro-transaction system, it was "an enjoyable little time waster."
In September 2015, Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, for release in 2016. The collection features Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover, set to tell the tale of the Foretellers and reveal new parts of the series' history in HD cinematics, approximately one-hour long. The collection also features an HD remaster of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep–A Fragmentary Passage, a new part of the story taking place after the events of the original Birth by Sleep, told from the perspective of Aqua.